I give up.
I wasn’t gonna do it, but I caved under (imagined) pressure.
I wanted to blog on something else this week, but with the recent SCOTUS rulings involving same-sex marriage, I felt sort of obligated to publish some commentary of my own. So, though I had intended to save this for a later time, I decided to reproduce yet another of my (in)famous Facebook exchanges. It isn’t as comprehensive on the same-sex marriage (SSM) issue as I hope to get in a future series of posts, but we did address quite a bit. And, this time, I didn’t butt in on someone else’s conversation. 😉
What happened was that I posted a link in my FB status to an article about the RNC unanimously reaffirming their position for the traditional understanding of marriage and against SSM, and I noted my approval. A libertarian friend — well, make that “friendly acquaintance” — of mine (“John”) was the first to pounce. The following exchange ensued, with 3 others chiming in briefly. (As usual, all names have been changed to protect the guilty, with the exception of the Wintery Knight, who is the most guileless and noble of men yet already uses an alias.):
John: When you are watching the news on the evening of the first tuesday in November 2014, and it is just being realized the republicans lost the house, and Pelosi is surely to be the next speaker, you can look at things like this as to why.
Me: Maybe, maybe not. It’s still a principled stand and, I think, the right one to take. As a libertarian, you know what it’s like to stand firm for/against something even when it isn’t popular.
Me: Btw, if Republicans do *not* lose the House — maybe even gain a few seats –, will you acknowledge that standing firm on “socially conservative” issues like this is a big reason why?
John: No. I think it would be to stop Obama. Libertarians standing on principle I believe cost Romney the election. The principle was why elect one big government politician who gets half of it wrong for another who gets 75% of it wrong? (and snubbing Ron Paul at the convention) The principle you are standing on is based entirely on religion. However, your religion does not bind all of us and its wrong to legislate to do so.
Eric: OK, so, if they lose the House it’s because of gay marriage; if they win it’s because of Obama…have I got this about right? If so, you might want to take a look at your ‘argument’ a.k.a. “heads i win, tails you lose”.
(In other words, you’re lambasting conservatives for standing on principle, which is totally awesome for anarcho-libertarians, but not OK for anyone else. Good to know.)
Also: the argument against gay marriage is not–or at least does not have to be–religion-based. Have you ever wondered why no culture, ever, has been OK with it? It had nothing to do with religion in ancient Greece or countless other places where the practice of homosexuality was normal behavior…but that would require a grasp of history you lack.
(Hell, as near as anyone can tell, it was never even considered as an option, and it had nothing at all to do with the Bible, unless you were Jewish.)
Me: ^ What he said, but with slightly less snark, ‘cuz I wanna stay friends.
John: No other nation has ever been like ours. No other nation had our constitution. And no, you don’t have it right. I’m not lambasting conservatives, I’m lambasting republicans. There hasn’t been anything conservative about the republican party for a long time. The evengelical fraction of the republican party have adopted the term “conservative” for themselves and now when many people hear it they associate it to bible thumpers who want to tell everyone how to live. That’s why they’re going to lose the house in 2014 Also: Anarcho-libertarians. LOL With that, you are saying you know nothing about it. (BTW gay marriage is believed to be legal in ancient Egypt)
John: I’m a little curious how you can make the arguement against gay marriage without involving religion.
Me: This isn’t comprehensive, but here’s one recent article that makes that case: “Setting Out the Case Against Gay Marriage”
Me: Btw, it’s not like non-evangelicals have an exclusive right to the term “conservative” any more than evangelicals. And Christian evangelicals calling themselves (or, should I say, ourselves) “conservative” is nothing new. Generally speaking, we are theologically conservative, socially conservative, and fiscally & economically conservative. I’m sorry some people mistakenly paint all “conservatives” with an evangelical — or, at least, theist — brush, but it isn’t our fault. Still, we have as much right to let our voices be heard in the public square as anyone else, including trying to get laws & policies enacted that we think will best serve society. You do the same thing.
Me: Re the ancient Egypt thing… As far as I can tell, this claim is based on a painting on a tomb of two royal manicurists. It appears that the two men were very close, quite possibly gay. (That there were homosexuals in ancient societies is not news. Some were even in legal unions — some temporary, some long-lasting.) But, nothing conclusively tells us that they were considered “married” in the usual sense. If the two in this tomb were, it was probably an anomaly. (No others have been found, that I could find mentioned.) Even if there were more, we shouldn’t be *too* surprised. We know the ancient Egyptians did a lot of stuff that is usually considered bizarre and/or taboo. For example, they were big on incestuous relationships & marriages, too — at least, among the royal families.
John: I can’t believe you posted that first one. If marriage is the fundamental building block of human civilization then we’ve been in trouble for a long time and gay marriage has nothing to do with it. The baby-boomers made divorce customary and half of all marriages today end in divorce. So save the sanctity of marriage crap. People get married for many reasons other than to breed so that argument is out. And as far as economic prosperity, it might have something to do with me being close to San Marco but most of the gay people I know are loaded! And when I talk about my beliefs it is ALWAYS about more freedom, more liberty, and no oppression because that’s what binds us all. And the kicker, the thing that really burns my ass, is this is not about gay marriage at all!!! The ruling class is trying to devalue our civil rights and they’re playing both sides against the middle to do it. The evangelicals won’t allow gay marriage because of their religious beliefs. And the left is shouting its their civil right. And the libertarians are saying to the left “its not a civil right! However, you should be allowed to live the life you want.” And to the right “you don’t have the right to tell them how to live.” One way or another gay marriage is going to happen even if the left has to tear up the Constitution to do it. And the more oppressive the republicans are on social issues the more power they are going to lose and there will be no one to stop the left when that happens.
John: I brought up Egypt because Eric said no other nation allowed gm. I don’t care if they allowed it or not. I don’t care if other countries today allow it or not. And to be honest, it doesn’t make a spit of differnce to me if we allow it. It will not change my life or my path in any way.
Me: John, despite your claims and (non-)concerns, there are clearly both “religious-based” *and* non-religious arguments against SSM (and *for* traditional marriage). I wouldn’t use the former arguments with someone like yourself, since you don’t hold the Bible in much regard, and I get frustrated when many evangelicals & other Christians do so. It gives the impression, which you and Bill O’Reilly have both assumed, that the only real arguments against SSM are “religious”.
The three institutions on which civilization were founded/grounded are marriage/family, church/religion, & government. For at least 5000 years, marriage has been recognized as a particular thing and as such has been encouraged for the health and continuation of society. You are correct that the institution of marriage has been steadily assaulted and weakened, particularly over the last few decades. So, WHY would we want to “redefine” marriage for legal reasons — which, by extension, (en)forces society’s stamp of approval — to officially recognize unions that do not serve this purpose? Are we really going to say, “‘No-fault divorce’ has made a mockery of marriage, so… screw it!… let’s just make it “anything goes” and see what happens! Plus, it’ll make the gays happy.”?
To be clear, I don’t know of anyone — evangelical or otherwise (well, maybe Muslims) — trying to outlaw homosexuals’ activity behind closed doors, or living together, or having ceremonies, or loving each other, or whatever. This is about a small minority (and their supporters/enablers) trying to destroy “traditional” ideas of marriage & family, getting a law-based (or court-mandated) “approval” of their lifestyle, and bullying into submission any who dare oppose or disagree, at the expense of their freedoms of (at minimum) speech & religion.
Me: You didn’t like the other article I linked to. How about this one?: “A Secular Case Against Gay Marriage”
Me: I’ve been meaning to blog on this for sometime but haven’t had the time to research and put it all together. My friend, Wintery Knight, took a stab at it here, in which he addresses more of the issues I had in mind: “A secular case against same-sex marriage”
Wintery Knight: And this one too: “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”
John: Why do you think you can tell other people how to live? And if you say you’re not then you’re being intellectually dishonest. Spread the word of Christ all you want but there is no place for your religion or any other in legislation in modern America. Neither you nor anyone else has made one logical non-religious argument why gay people shouldn’t be married. The more I have these discussions the more sure of it I am that its the right thing to do.
Me: I’m slow. Please tell me plainly how it is I am “tell[ing] other people how to live”. (Not saying you’re wrong, but I want to know exactly what you mean, before I respond.)
“there is no place for your religion or any other in legislation in modern America.”
I thought libertarians respected our Founding Fathers and founding documents, all of whom/which would disagree with you. Besides, doesn’t your own intolerance strike you as ironic?
Me: You probably didn’t read my last blog post, but it is very relevant to your last comments: “Atheism is Patriotic? What the…?”
John: MY intolerance?? You must be joking. First off, I’m not an atheist. I have a very deep spiritual and personal relationship with God. It just doesn’t concern you or anyone else. I have no use for man-made religion. I see it as a tool men use to control other men. I have no use for support from man in my relationship with God. I don’t push my belief on anyone and I certainly don’t think my faith should be legislated. I am all too aware of our founding father’s beliefs. If they wanted this to be a Christian nation then don’t you think they would have said so and not put freedom of religion in the Bill Of Rights?… You’ve not made a non-religious case to deny ssm. So it comes down to your religion. Based on your religious beliefs, you want to legislate that other’s cannot live the life they want. I want to know why you think you have the right to do that.
Me: OK, my bad on assuming you were atheist (or hard agnostic). Your apparent hostility towards evangelical Christians and our participation in the public square is typical of what I hear/read from non-theists, thus my assumption. My apologies. I would like to know more about your views on God, religion (man-made vs. ???), the Bible, etc., sometime (if you’re open to it), but I’d rather try to stay on topic for this thread.
My accusation of intolerance stemmed from your essentially saying that any “religious” talk in public discussions or arguments with a religious grounding are not welcome in your version of America. We’re supposed to take our marbles and go home, or at least shut up. (Yes, I also maintain that I haven’t yet lost my marbles.) Did I misunderstand?
Assuming you read completely through the posts WK & I linked to, I can still understand if you think they are bad arguments. Certainly your prerogative. (Though, I have to wonder if you already have your mind made up.) But, if you find them illogical, can you give examples of what you think violates the laws of logic? Still, even if you find them unconvincing and not “logical”, you cannot maintain that “[t]he principle you are standing on is based entirely on religion.”
America *is* a “Christian nation” in at least a couple ways (e.g., founded on Judeo-Christian principles; the predominant religion — loosely speaking, at least — is still “Christianity”), but not in the way you seem to mean it. If you read my blogpost linked above, you know that neither I nor 98% of Christians are pushing for any sort of a theocracy.
Finally, you still haven’t explained how it is that you think I (and others like me) are trying to prevent others from “liv[ing] the life they want”. I can’t explain why I think I have the right until you tell me what exactly you think I’m doing. Surely you aren’t referring to gay couples not getting things like visitation rights and tax advantages. Heck, I don’t get those, either….
Tom: And lest we forget the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution (A.K.A. The Law of the Land) it is Freedom of Religion, not freedom “from” religion. That seems to have been lost over generations.
John: I’m not open to discussing my spiritual beliefs. I come from a very Christian family. One of my cousins and one of my uncles are both ministers. I find religion has very little to do with god and is used mainly to control people. Our personal religious beliefs have no place in legislation that effects all of us because we all don’t have the same religious beliefs. A good example is if Muslims continued to move to Wisconsin (yes, Wisconsin has a high population of Muslims) and eventually became the majority, would it be ok if they implemented Sharia law? Of course not. So why do you think its ok for you? We were founded on Judeo-Christian principles, you are correct. But if the founders wanted this to be a Christian nation, with Christianity as the official religion don’t you think they would have been specific about it? Its a pretty important thing and I highly doubt they forgot to put it in, or had a “they’ll figure it out” attitude. However, they were specific on their intent for the United States to be a land for free men to practice whatever religion they want, or no religion if they so choose. I believe gay people have the best of both worlds right now and I’ve said that to a few. They can be with the one they love and have a written guarantee that the state won’t interfere in their lives. Where can I get one of those?! But they want to be married. I don’t know why. I don’t want to be married, I think its a ridiculous institution. But if 2 people who are in love want to be married then I don’t want to stop them. A ssm cannot possibly devalue the way I view marriage any further. It could only strengthen it. By not allowing ssm, you expect gay people to live their lives based on your religious beliefs. Why do you feel you have that right?
John: I have already gone through each of the arguments in the comment that starts with “I can’t believe you posted the first one.”
John: That first one by WK. WOW. I don’t respond to ignorant bigotry.
Say what you will about “John”, he ain’t shy about saying what he thinks and challenging you when he thinks you’re full of BS. But, is he consistent in his own beliefs? Is he fair? Tolerant? Does he present good reasons for what he does & doesn’t believe? Do I? What do you think of our respective arguments? Do I ask enough questions?
Here are three more: Are you hooked? Intrigued? Appetite whetted? If you liked Part 1, you’ll love Part 2! (Well, maybe….)